Transportation & Logistics Degrees: Associate, Bachelor's & Online Class Info

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What will you learn in a transportation and logistics degree program? Read about program requirements, the pros and cons of an associate's and bachelor's degree and potential careers.
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Studying Transportation and Logistics: Degrees at a Glance

The transportation and logistics field offers a number of job opportunities in the supply chain industry. Personnel in the field work in multiple sectors, including materials handling, warehousing, transportation and distribution. An associate's degree can make you competitive for entry-level positions, while the bachelor's program offers a more advanced education that can prepare you for a career in management.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) found that the job outlook for logistics professionals was highly dependent on the particular career being pursued. For example, the BLS reported that purchasing managers were expected to only see a 7% increase in jobs from 2010-2020 (which was slower than the average for all occupations), while logistician openings were projected to increase by 26% during this time frame (faster than the average for all occupations).

Associate's Bachelor's
Who is this degree for? People seeking entry-level technician or support opportunities in logistics Individuals interested in mid-level logistics and transportation management careers
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - Logistics analyst ($48,000)**
- Logistician ($72,000)*
- Purchasing manager ($97,000)*
- Estimator ($49,000)**
- Operations research analyst ($72,000)*
- Logistics director ($116,000)**
Time to Completion 2 years, full-time 4 years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - General education courses
- Roughly 15 courses in logistics and related subjects
- Work-based learning experience
- General education courses
- About 20-25 courses in transportation and logistics
- Roughly 3-4 core business courses
- Internship or practicum
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability Some online courses may be available A few programs are available

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures), **Salary.com (August 2012 figures).

Associate's Degree in Transportation and Logistics

The associate's degree program in transportation and logistics provides you with an introductory education that can be applied to the manufacturing, distribution and warehousing industries. You can learn to use modern technologies designed to manage distribution systems and increase the efficiency of delivery methods. Some schools may offer associate's programs that focus on a specific area of logistics, such as government, commercial or aviation transportation. Keep in mind that not all schools offer concentration options, so you could end up with a much broader education than you'd get at the bachelor's level.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Can help you stand out from applicants who only have a high school diploma
  • Most associate's programs in logistics are designed to make it easy to continue your education at the bachelor's level if you choose
  • Associate's degree may qualify as a substitute for experience when pursuing certain certifications

Cons

  • Advancement beyond entry-level logistician positions may require a bachelor's degree
  • Some programs may offer a broad education and not have courses that pertain to your particular interests in logistics
  • An associate's degree is rarely a hard requirement for jobs in transportation and logistics; employers who require more than a high school diploma usually want candidates with a bachelor's degree

Courses and Requirements

The associate's degree consists of approximately 60 credits of coursework, with a combination of courses in supply chain management, business principles and transportation. Upon graduation, you should have a solid foundation in electronic commerce, import and export management, legal compliance and purchasing processes. Some programs may include a work-based learning experience that gives you hands-on learning in a real logistics environment. Here are some courses you may find in an associate's program:

  • Domestic transportation
  • Inventory control
  • Warehouse management
  • Business technology
  • Business ethics
  • Inventory control
  • Shipping operations

Online Degree Options

Although associate's degrees in transportation and logistics are not available, you may be able to find online programs in logistics management. The key difference in a logistics management program is that you'll miss out on some transportation courses and focus more on overseeing logistics and supply chain operations.

Some of your general education courses in a transportation and logistics program may be available online, but you'll probably end up taking most of your specialized courses at the campus. If you do come across any school that claims to offer an associate's program in logistics and transportation completely online, make sure the school is accredited by an agency approved by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the U.S. Department of Education.

Stand Out with This Degree

Excellent customer service, technology and communication skills are important to employers. Taking advantage of customer service courses during your studies can increase your ability to communicate effectively in a customer-driven environment. In addition, taking courses that cover current technologies or software products used for logistics can boost your marketability.

Professional associations may offer certifications that can give your job search a boost. For example, the Association for Operations Management (APICS) offers the Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) designation, and the American Society of Transportation and Logistics offers the Certification in Transportation and Logistics (CTL). Each certification requires you to pass some exams, and you don't need a bachelor's degree to qualify for either certification.

Bachelor's Degree in Transportation and Logistics

The bachelor's degree in transportation and logistics offers a closer look at the field through advanced coursework and may allow you to focus your studies on a particular sector of logistics, including concentration options in systems management, global logistics or operations. Bachelor's programs can teach you the necessary skills to become a purchasing manager, operations research analyst or cost estimator.

Some schools offer a bachelor's in logistics and distribution, which can give you the necessary training to work in transportation and logistics. The program description and course options can give you a good idea if a logistics and distribution program covers transportation and logistics, which many often do.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Can open up career opportunities that aren't available to associate's degree holders
  • Employers may prefer to hire bachelor's degree holders for some positions
  • Most programs require you to take math courses, which can be beneficial for a number of logistics career paths (operations research analyst, cost estimator)

Cons

  • Some careers were projected to have slower-than average job growth (purchasing managers were predicted to see a 7% increase in jobs from 2010-2020)*
  • May face strong competition for some positions (purchasing management, operations research analysis) from individuals who have a master's degree
  • Even with concentration options, many programs give you a broad education and never allow you to focus on a specific aspect of logistics

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Courses and Requirements

The bachelor's degree program covers current issues in the industry, logistics technology and transportation management. Most programs include a small business core along with some required courses in math and statistics. Some of the logistics and transportation courses you can take include:

  • Transportation law
  • Economics of transportation
  • Delivery of goods and services
  • Logistics management
  • Foundations of transportation
  • Global logistics
  • Distribution channels

In addition to your coursework, you may be required to complete a practicum or an internship, but this may vary between schools. Some schools may encourage students to pursue an internship outside of the program.

Online Degree Options

Although a few bachelor's degree programs in transportation and logistics are available, you'll want to be sure that any programs you come across have endorsement from an agency approved by the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Online bachelor's programs in logistics management are more common, but these distance learning programs do not usually include many course options in transportation. On-campus programs are your best bet for a learning experience that thoroughly covers logistics and transportation.

Stand Out with This Degree

Experience and technical skills play a significant role for some career opportunities. Bachelor's degree programs may offer internship opportunities, which can boost your marketability and give you a jump-start in gaining work experience. Take advantage of any clubs or student organizations at your school that involve logistics.

Professional certifications can give you an edge in the job market by showing employers that you have a specific set of skills or abilities that pertain to logistics or transportation. The type of certification that is right for you depends on your career goals and the specific type of job you're after. APICS offers the Certified Supply Chain Professional designation, which requires a certain amount of experience before you can qualify to take the exams.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Southern New Hampshire University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS in Operations Management / Logistics and Transportation concentration
      • BS in Operations Management
      • BS in Business Studies - Small Business Mgt
      • BS in Business Admin - Small Business Mgt
      • BS in Operations Management / Project Management concentration
      • BS in Business Studies - Business Adminis
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Ashford University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.A. - Supply Chain Management
      • B.A. - Business Admin
      • B.A. - Operations Management and Analysis
      • B.A. - Service Management
      • BA/Service Management - Restaurant Enterprise Management
      • BA/Service Management - Mass-Market Retail Enterprise Management
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BSBA - Supply Chain Management and Logistics
      • Bachelor of Business Admin
      • BBA: Project Management
      • BSBA - Investment
      • Bachelor: Accounting
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Colorado Technical University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Business Admin - Logistics/Supply Chain Management
      • BS - Business Administration - Management
      • Bachelor: Project Management
      • BS - Business Administration - Project Management
      • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Organizational Behavior
      • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration - Business Development
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. Management - No Specialization
      • B.S. Business Administration - No Specialization
      • B.S. General Studies - Business
      • B.S. General Studies - Entrepreneurship
  • Campus and Online Programs
    6. Full Sail University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • B.S. - Music Business
      • B.S. - Sports Marketing and Media
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • BS - Business Management
      • BS - Organizational Leadership
      • BS - Project Management
      • Undergraduate Specialization - Small Business and Entrepreneurship
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
      • BS in Applied Management
      • BS in Business Admin.
      • BS in Entrepreneurial Studies
      • Bachelor of Science in Applied Business Analytics
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Trident University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor's - Business Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Regent University

    Program Options

    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Applied Science in Management and Leadership
      • Bachelor of Science in Business
      • Bachelor of Science in Business - General Management
      • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies - Business

Featured Schools

Southern New Hampshire University

  • BS in Operations Management / Logistics and Transportation concentration
  • BS in Operations Management
  • BS in Business Studies - Small Business Mgt

What is your highest level of education?

Ashford University

  • B.A. - Supply Chain Management
  • B.A. - Business Admin
  • B.A. - Operations Management and Analysis

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Kaplan University

  • BSBA - Supply Chain Management and Logistics
  • Bachelor of Business Admin
  • BBA: Project Management

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Colorado Technical University

  • Bachelor: Business Admin - Logistics/Supply Chain Management
  • BS - Business Administration - Management
  • Bachelor: Project Management

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Indiana Wesleyan University

  • B.S. Management - No Specialization
  • B.S. Business Administration - No Specialization
  • B.S. General Studies - Business

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Full Sail University

  • B.S. - Music Business
  • B.S. - Sports Marketing and Media

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Colorado State University Global

  • BS - Business Management
  • BS - Organizational Leadership
  • BS - Project Management

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Grand Canyon University

  • Bachelor of Science in Business for Secondary Education
  • BS in Applied Management
  • BS in Business Admin.

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